Kanaloa Seafood Market and Kitchen
251 Lombard St.
Who, I wondered, would head to a wholesale seafood operation based in an Oxnard industrial zone for a fish taco or bowl of clam chowder for lunch? Kanaloa Seafood Market and Kitchen is a certainly great new option for those who work in the area. It’s also a destination to purchase sustainably sourced fresh fish for home cooks and grillers. And while you are dinner shopping, you can dig into a crispy fish taco. But … but…still, I thought to myself. Then I thought of others, like myself, who care about where their food comes from and how it’s sourced. Kanaloa is the place if you are into fresh, sustainably sourced beautiful, clean seafood.
Upon entering, the strong smell of fresh fish assaulted our senses the small, shiny new, high-ceilinged space carved out of the company’s warehouse. We stepped right up to the compact ordering counter, backed by an open kitchen and glass-fronted refrigerator stocked with fresh fish for sale.
We ordered the Korean fish tacos (2 for $9), a salmon burger ($13), half a Caesar salad ($6) and the waffle fries ($2.50) — a lot, to be sure, but all to be shared. We were starved and had overheard that the clam chowder was “awesome” from a fellow at the table next to ours. He said he worked across the street and was thrilled to have good eats nearby. I asked the enthusiastic girl at the counter for a taste, which she generously and cheerfully provided. Full of bacon and flavor, cubes of potatoes and chewy clams, the tasty white chowder lived up to its reputation.
We grabbed napkins, utensils, water and hot sauce, offered among other condiments, and admired our small but attractive surroundings. There are an eating counter (good for solo diners), a smattering of wooden tables and chairs, a couple of small outdoor metal tables and chairs with a parking lot view.
Three generous portions of food and chips were brought to our table by one of the friendly, helpful staff. First, we dug into the tasty Korean tacos stuffed with kalbi-marinated salmon, pickled cucumber, cilantro slaw, kimchi aioli and a delicious red chili sesame salsa with a slight kick and lots of sesame flavor. Those went down easily and were our favorite dish. The salmon burger was a mouthful and then some, all piled high within an excellent ciabatta bun: a slew of dripping slaw, tasty slice of bright red tomato, pickled red onions, chimichurri aioli and a grilled salmon patty. (I prefer a solid piece of salmon in my fish burgers.) The Caesar salad was lightly dressed — so lightly that it really didn’t have much flavor despite some nice bits of Parmesan cheese and croutons. Crunchy waffle chips were tasty and hard to resist. There are daily specials — catfish or cioppino ($15) the day we visited. There’s even a hamburger for the non-fish person in your crowd.
Other guests recommended the crispy fish tacos (also noted as a customer favorite by a staff member), which I would order on a return visit. I certainly would go for the Korean fish tacos again. There are fish sticks for the kids 12 and younger ($7) and poke salad. Full, I decided to blow the rest of my budget on a piece of fresh fish to take home.
Kanaloa is proud of its support of sustainable, environmentally sound fishing practices; and the owners, Randee and Don Disraeli (who also have a market and kitchen in Santa Barbara) are committed to preserving our oceans and bringing an end to destructive fishing practices.
The staff is well-informed and happy to “talk fish” for those shopping to go. Our helper asked in the warehouse about sea bass — it would be arriving in a few hours she said. Fresh wild caught fish is not cheap: expect to pay $30-$40 a pound or more for imported species, less for locally sourced catches like Santa Barbara mussels ($6.95 a pound).
We left, not only sated with our hearty lunch, but also equipped with Santa Barbara mussels and a beautiful slice of wild mahi-mahi from Tahiti packed with ice in a Kanaloa to-go satchel.
My home cooked mahi-mahi?
It was yummy-yummy, too.